PopTards Games: Nier, reviewed by Myke!

NIER
Nier

I’m not really sure how to approach this review for Nier. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say off the bat that I’m a huge Square/Enix fan and love JRPG’s.  The game was developed by Cavia, who brought us such titles as Bullet Witch and Sega Bass Fishing for the Wii (that’s important, but I’ll get to that later) so I wasn’t expecting much.  I knew going in it was not going to blow my proverbial socks (or the actual ones for that matter) off.  Mostly due to the fact that I’ve watched a lot of MythBusters and know that blowing one’s socks off if exceedingly difficult to do. But it had the Square/Enix name on it, so I felt almost contractually obligated to play it.  Besides, look at the art work, I mean really look at, it looks epic.  A gnarly looking dude with a giant sword, a smart mouth book that sounds like The Voice and a female companion who apparently shops at the same stores as Ayumi from X-Blades, what could go wrong?  *Cue dramatic music*

The game opens with the female lead Kainé verbally berating Weiss.  Simple black screen white text was rather effective at grabbing your attention.  It has the expected preview of the game that you’re about to play showcasing off the awesomeness you hope you’ll get to enjoy.  Getting into the game was an annoying little diatribe of asking to save three times right off the bat, then asked for my name…twice, it was all very similar to experiences at the DMV.  Finally the game begins….er, I mean, the opening FMV begins.  You’re given the illusion of having just watched the foundation of the story, but its far too short and way to straight forward for Japanese writing.

The game drops you right in to a battle, without warning or direction. Suddenly I found myself in a frantic state of mashing buttons hoping that one of them will make my character curl up in the fetal position and cry until the monsters go away.   Such is not the case, and I’m left waiting for a game to adopt my fighting style.  *Sigh* one day damnit!  Armed with your trusty length of pipe (seriously, dude’s swinging a pipe like he’s brother Mario) you fend off a small batch of monsters.  More movie. Next battle is rather intense and fast paced.  You get a little more direction in this one though, which was nice of them.  Now being the good like RPG/JRPG addict that I am, I’m well aware of the long and sometimes painful task of leveling a character.  In about 10 minutes, I had learned all the spells, leveled up to 30 and was an ass-kicking machine, it was awesome.  The whole time I was fighting the end boss of the sequence, I had this nibbling voice whispering in my ear.  This all felt too familiar.  As the fight ended and the next movie started (seriously, Squar/Enix, start including popcorn with your games, kthxbye) the déjà vu ramped up and I realized I had been had.  Just as in Prototype and Darksiders and several other games, you start off at the uber point, just to see how awesome you’ll be to keep your interest.

This carries you into the actual game and you’re a level 1 weakling again, killing rats in the field just to get you XP total up. Way, way in the future, a character very similar to the one in the opening with the name you gave them, with a daughter identical to the one in the beginning is starting their day.  The middle, or meat, of the game was best described by Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad when he said “It’s like having sex. It’s a painstaking and arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way, nothing happens.”  With Nier I’m assuming Cavia wanted to avoid the mistake in Bullet Witch and not make a very short game with little replay value.  The succeeded, sort of.  Nier is much longer than Bullet Witch, but not in the good way.  The meat of the game is based around running errands for people, repeatedly fighting the same enemies in the same environments, and powering up your spells and weapons.

This is a game designed for JRPG fans.  This is by no means the game you introduce someone to the genre with.  The upgrade system is baffling at best, and rare is it you get any kind of instruction on what to do.  There is also, of course, a fishing mini-game, as I think it is now required by Shinto law to be in all JRPG’s.  This game has one of the worst fishing mini-games ever (and sadly I have a lot of experience here to make that claim).  Remember, this company made Sega Bass Fishing for the Wii, which besides the graphics, was a really good sim.  You would think that if Cavia were to make anything really well in this game, it would have been the fishing.

The middle 20 or so hours (depending upon how much you like to torture yourself) is dedicated to grinders and people who live for mind numbing battles and repetitive tasks and terrains.  After about 12 hours of running errands and a five year time leap, I had enough and continued on just focusing on the story. The end of the game offers some really epic, but not very challenging battles with boss characters.

Over all, Nier is not a game I would recommend anyone to run out and buy.  If you’re a serious JRPG fan, and you have a Gamefly account, or see a used copy cheap (most likely in a week or two) I’d say pick it up.  The game does have some interesting elements to it.  It blends together standard hacky/slashy fighting in standard 180 degree camera swivel view, as well as side-scroll and top view (which really made me want to play through Fester’s Quest).  There are some puzzle elements, but just barely, and they even manages to fit in a intriguing text based part, which felt a lot like the old choose your own adventure books.

My biggest problem with the game was actually more of a combination of all the little problems I had with it.  The mini map remained stationary which rendered it useless at times.  Load screens, in the immortal words of Helen ‘Mama’ Boucher, are the devil. The music was good, but was no variation and became annoyingly repetitive.  Every time the main character would jump, he would thrust his crotch forward, which after awhile gets disturbing.  He would also do this little slide move every time he stopped moving, making precision placement non-existent.  The ladder climbing was probably the most excruciating I’ve ever endured and simultaneously the most life like.  Worst of all, you can not bop the chickens with your sword, it’s like they’ve never played a Zelda game.

Final word:  if you like JRPG’s and the grind aspect that comes with them it’s worth renting it or getting it on the cheap in a few weeks.  If you’re not and RPG/JRPG fan, avoid it as it will spoil the genre for you.

Next week a look ahead to what’s coming out this summer.  I had hoped to have that for this week as well, but the Nier review was about 1249 words longer that I though I would need.

Questions, comments, concerns or praise can be sent to
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4 Comments to “PopTards Games: Nier, reviewed by Myke!”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    Dude, really well written review, funny stuff!
    I had never heard of this game, and looks like I don’t really NEED to hear of it. Doesn’t seem up my alley at all, since i kinda hate RPGs. Also, I don’t know what a JRPG is! I’ve been playing Prince of Persia, which is slightly more up my alley and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Splinter Cell! Can’t wait for your next post!

  2. Alana says:

    I agree. This is an awesomely written review. Though, I’m not sure I will be playing this, I def. enjoyed reading this…all of this! HA!

    JD: I wanna see the movie. Apparently Jake took Parkur(sp.?) lessons.

  3. JD (Host) says:

    yeah, i’m either way on the movie, I’ll definitely see it, but the trailers don’t have me convinced just yet!

  4. Y says:

    Yeah, it was one Square was hoping would go unnoticed. JRPG just refers to Japanese RPGs, they usually have a very linear story that’s dramatically driven, David and Goliath type stuff, and very often god shows up, often as an enemy, seeing as they are mostly Zionist.

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